The Frontstretch: Mirror Driving: Non-Chase Rewards, France Fantasies, And Faking The Truth by Frontstretch Staff -- Wednesday October 20, 2010

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Mirror Driving: Non-Chase Rewards, France Fantasies, And Faking The Truth

Frontstretch Staff · Wednesday October 20, 2010


Welcome to “Mirror Driving.” Every week, your favorite columnists sit down and give their opinion about the latest NASCAR news, rumors, and controversy. Love us or hate us, make a comment below and tell us how you feel about what we’ve said!

This Week’s Participants:
Amy Henderson (Mondays / Holding A Pretty Wheel)
Phil Allaway (Tuesdays / Talking NASCAR TV & Frontstretch Newsletter)
Mike Neff (Wednesdays / Top 15 & Wednesdays / Full Throttle)
Summer Dreyer (Mondays / Running Their Mouth & Frontstretch News Reporter)
Kyle Ocker (Frontstretch News Reporter)

Brian France said before the Charlotte race that the ratings problems will resolve themselves because the racing is a good enough product. Based on Saturday night’s Bank of America 500, is the product good enough to keep fans interested?

Phil: It’s OK, but not the best on earth.
Amy: Saturday night’s race was actually a decent race, and if NASCAR made it about the racing, then yes, the product would carry the fan base – but they don’t. This week’s race was good, too; the last caution was the only sour note for me.
Summer: It’s been alright. Not necessarily spectacular, but it’s been mostly competitive.
Kyle: I’ve just heard that ratings in the chase so far are down 27 percent from last year. Brian, sorry to inform you but it’s not going to fix itself. Right now, the NFL is dominating Sunday 1 PM. They are actually having some growth.
Amy: See, I do think the product would carry NASCAR if NASCAR made it about the racing — lose the Chase, overhaul the schedule — but as is, it won’t magically fix itself.
Mike N.: I thought the racing was quite good. I’m with Amy, though, I hate they threw that last caution for debris that was nowhere near the racing groove.

“Don’t you worry, Junior. If that fake debris caution at the end of the race doesn’t keep you in contention for a good finish, we’ll just start calling them every time you go a lap down. Oh wait … we already do. Why aren’t you running in the top 10 every week?”

Phil: CBS is claiming a 14.3/29 for the NFL at 1:00 PM on Sunday. It’s hard to compete against that, but that doesn’t mean that you have to get out. They always get double digits.  Plus, they had good matchups.
Kyle: So NASCAR must be hoping they don’t nail down a new labor contract and go into lockout for next year. Otherwise, they will need to race more on Saturday night or hold races in the evening.
Mike N.: I hope they’ll just race against the NFL. Although I’d start the races at noon instead of one.
Kyle: You try to go up against the NFL, you lose. Pretty simple formula. NASCAR should start the races at 11:00 EST, then have a halftime for the NFL games and resume after the afternoon games are over.
Phil: That’s insane, Kyle. Heck no. This isn’t ARCA in 1981.
Summer: I’ve wondered about the possibility of maybe a primetime race. Not sure how many fans would embrace that, though.
Phil: A primetime race when? We just had one.
Amy: The problem with an entire race beginning in primetime is it ends way too late for most viewers. You have to start early and run into primetime.
Summer: I don’t mean every week for primetime. Just maybe something like a Thursday night race or something along those lines. Though the time zones would make it tricky.
Amy: And it’s got to be on Saturday. Start a race at 8:00 EST on a Sunday, unless Monday is a holiday, and nobody’s going to be around for the end.
Mike N.: Some people will watch a live race until 4:00 AM on a work night, but they’re definitely not normal. Anyway, the tracks wouldn’t go for it. The crowds are small enough now. They wouldn’t have half of the crowd if you ran it on a weeknight.
Summer: I’m all for more Saturday night races.
Kyle: You’ve got college football on Saturday, though. They aren’t as big as the NFL … yet.

Summer: I’d rather compete with college ball than the NFL.
Amy: Would never fly on a work night, Summer. People aren’t going to stay up until 1:00 AM to watch a race if they have to work at 8:00 AM. I love Sunday races, but they need to be going green at 1:00 or even 12:30 EST to compete with football. Not the broadcast starting, going green.
Kyle: NASCAR needs to at least get races started early enough to draw some NFL fans in to stay, or at least attempt.
Summer: I agree. Starting the race at the exact same time football games are starting isn’t doing us any good.
Amy: They’re not starting the race at that time, and that’s the problem. By the time they go green, the football game has started. Start times are far from the real problem, though. NASCAR needs to totally rewrite the schedule, drop the top 35 rule and the Chase, stop throwing fake cautions, and really get back to basics.
Phil: If you drop the Chase, you don’t have to rewrite the schedule. Dropping the top 35 rule would be nice, though.
Amy: Yes they do, Phil. There are still way too many cookie-cutter tracks. NASCAR needs more tracks like Rockingham, Iowa, and Darlington.
Kyle: Yes Amy, NASCAR needs to do what they have been claiming to have been doing, and that’s get back to the basics. They say it every year, but all they do is push the sport farther away from the “basics.” They didn’t have a Chase in the ‘80s. They need to quit giving boring tracks (cough, cough, Kansas) second (or even first) dates just because they are building a casino.
Amy: NASCAR pays the fans plenty of lip service, but they’re empty words.

Phil: They can’t do Rockingham unless they add seats back there.  33,000 seats are not enough for a Cup race.
Kyle: Adding seats is easy, though.
Mike N.: They could add the seats in a month, Phil. The foundations are still there on the backstretch. But ISC and SMI are not going to give up dates at their tracks to run at the older, short tracks so, unless NASCAR actually mandates it, we’re never going to see it.
Amy: No, but they could do other series. A second date at Darlington would be easy. How many seats does North Wilkes have?
Mike N.: 60,000, I think.
Phil: The main problem with a second Darlington race is attendance.
Summer: Maybe add seats, but don’t add too many. A lot of tracks with “bad” attendance this year would be a full house at other tracks.
Amy: The Rock also needs a serious upgrade with bathrooms, concessions, and SAFER barriers, but it’s doable.
Kyle: Still, you tell them they will for sure have a race for a few years and those fixes would be done, no problem.
Mike N.: Exactly, Kyle. I’ve always said that if they told a track they could have a race date with more seats, they’d be up in 90 days.
Summer: Well, back to the original question, I think the on-track action has been alright but it will probably take more than that to make fans happy again.
Amy: Bottom line, the racing is only going to save itself if it’s actually about the racing, and right now it’s not. Nobody wants to watch the Chase, or know a crappy qualifier will get in over someone faster because of points.
Kyle: On-track action is much, much better. Get rid of the chase, phantom cautions, etc., but doing nothing or letting it solve itself will not work.
Mike N.: They need to let them have a stable platform for a few years and the racing will continue to get better. NASCAR keeps monkeying with the cars, and it takes awhile for the teams to get them figured out.
Kyle: Or pay the Players’ Union to decline any new labor contracts and send the NFL into a lockout next season. If you can’t compete with the competition, eliminate it.

With his third victory of the season, Jamie McMurray is in an interesting position: He has more wins in 2010 than eight of the Chase drivers (only two have more wins) and more poles than any other driver in the Sprint Cup Series. Does NASCAR need to acknowledge the best non-Chaser with some kind of award at the banquet, especially if he’s outracing those running for the championship? Or is this one simply a sign that the current playoff system isn’t working?

Summer: They used to award the 11th-place driver when the Chase was just 10 drivers.
Phil: They awarded that guy with a check for $1,000,000, if I remember correctly. Yes, if you’re going to continue with the Chase, you have to have awards for the leader at the cutoff and the best non-Chaser.
Summer: Absolutely, the best non-Chaser should be recognized. Give them something to compete for. And let the 11th- and 12th-place driver attend the banquet, too.
Amy: Absolutely, they need to acknowledge drivers like McMurray. There should be an award for the 13th-place guy … not to mention, under the real points, Jamie Mac is knocking on the door of the top 10.
Phil: McMurray is running like he did in 2004 when he would have been sixth in points if there weren’t a Chase.
Summer: Isn’t saying “such and such driver would be at this point in the old points system” kind of like saying “if the race ended now…?”
Mike N.: Yes it is, Summer.
Kyle: Yeah, but giving the best non-Chaser an award is basically saying he was the best loser. Is that really something to be proud of? I’m just going to pull an Ed Hinton and just talk about how much the Chase sucks and how it’s idiotic that NASCAR still uses it.

“Jamie McMurray’s Charlotte victory was the first by a non-Chaser at an unrestricted track since Greg Biffle at Kansas in the Fall of 2007.”

Summer: Well Kyle, their sponsors are already probably annoyed they missed the Chase in the first place. At least let them have some recognition.
Mike N.: I don’t know if I care about someone getting an award that wasn’t in the Chase. They did it for a year or two, but I don’t think the drivers cared about it so it kind of died off.

Kyle: I think instead of giving an award to the most successful loser, NASCAR eliminates the Chase entirely.
Amy: The problem is, Mike, the Chase was created to reward winning, and Jamie has more wins than most of the Chasers.
Mike N.: The Chase was created to try and compete with the NFL, and it is failing miserably.
Kyle: Maybe they should do it based on a formula of wins/ranking/races/etc.
Amy: Here’s a thought: give a big fat check to the non-Chaser with the most wins. At least those guys wouldn’t be stroking.
Summer: I like that idea.
Kyle: Or do away with the Chase.
Amy: That too.
Mike N.: I’m pretty sure those guys aren’t stroking at this point, Amy, since they don’t have anything else to race for.
Phil: Just do away with the Chase. This is beyond stupid. Getting rid of it will improve the telecasts, as well.

Amy: The Chase has all but ruined the sport.
Summer: It’s not going away.
Kyle: Look at the ratings, they’ve only fallen since they implemented it.  But, instead of trying to fix the sport, NASCAR will sit on their butts and watch the sport die and then blame someone else for it.
Phil: The ratings went up for the first year or two, then fell off the earth. It’ll go away when Brian’s gone, Summer. It’s his baby.
Amy: If it doesn’t go away, the ratings will continue to plummet and NASCAR as we know it will crumble.
Summer: And since people love making comparisons between the old and new system, I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have the top three drivers separated by 77 points with five races to go.
Mike N.: I don’t know what we’d have, Summer. The No. 48 would not have spent the summer testing for the Chase, so they would probably be much closer to Harvick at this point, if not leading.
Summer: Yeah, but how often did we have points battles this close? I don’t care if people don’t like it, but at least enjoy it when it turns out to be interesting to watch.
Mike N.: I suppose they could do something for 13th in points, but when 11 and 12 don’t go to the banquet, I’m not sure you want 13th to be celebrated.
Amy: Because 13th has more wins than 11th and 12th put together. And yes, if you have 12, all 12 should be honored in Vegas.
Kyle: True that. If you’re going to keep the stupid Chase, at least honor the entire top 12.
Summer: I agree with that. I hate how they ignore the last two drivers in the Chase. If you’re going to have that many in, give them all some recognition. 

Amy: Actually, McMurray has as many wins as the 9th through 12th-place drivers put together. Yes, there is a problem with the system.
Summer: He wouldn’t be in the top 10 anyways without the Chase, right?
Amy: He’d be 11th right now.

Mike N.: Honestly, I think they should honor the top 3 at the banquet and let the rest of them go on vacation early.
Kyle: Maybe having one or more wins through 26 races should be a prerequisite. Or at least separate all of the drivers who have wins and make sure they get in first, then fill the rest of the Chase field by most points without wins.
Summer: There’d be issues with that system, too, but I wouldn’t complain if that’s how they decided to do it. For instance, bad luck would keep Jeff Gordon out of the Chase even though there were several wins he should have had at the beginning of the season.
Amy: Make it be about winning if you’re going to have it. Require top 12 in points and at least one win. Then maybe take the guy outside top 12 with the most wins.
Mike N.: So, if we have a year where Johnson, Hamlin and Harvick win the first 26 races we’ll have a three-team Chase?
Summer: NASCAR is competitive enough we’d have more teams than just three. Not that three drivers would be a horrible thing.
Mike N.: It could happen, Summer. If you tell the No. 48 that they can lock out other drivers from even having a shot, I think they’ll do it.
Phil: That sounds nutty, but the entire second half of the 1993 season saw four guys go to Victory Lane.
Mike N.: There you go, Phil. That would make for a hell of a Chase.
Summer: I wouldn’t have a problem with a three-man Chase. That could be a lot of fun to watch.
Mike N.: Yeah, unless two of them have DNFs in the first two Chase races. Then it is more boring than watching paint dry.

Summer: Well sometimes the old points system made the championship seem like watching paint dry, too.
Amy: At least it wasn’t fake. And the guy who most deserved to win the championship actually won the championship.
Summer: It’s not fake. It’s a points system. The best teams get one last shootout to prove they are the best.
Amy: Of course it’s fake … Harvick’s 249-point lead that he would have is real.
Mike N.: I agree, Summer, but at least the old system awarded the team that was the best for the entire year instead of ten races.
Summer: It’s not like the best driver doesn’t win the championship here, either.
Mike N.: With all of this stuff being said, who were the three best teams this season?
Summer: The three best are the top three leading the standings.
Mike N.: That’s right, the Nos. 29, 11 and 48. And they are the top three teams fighting for the title now.
Summer: It’s fine. You’re entitled to your opinion and I don’t love the Chase, I just don’t think it’s as bad as everyone makes it out to be. There are good and bad things about it just like there were with the old system.
Amy: This year’s field would have been seven if a win was required.
Kyle: Seven is enough.

Kasey Kahne made an early exit from the racetrack on Saturday after crashing his No. 9 Ford, but his team still got the car repaired and finished with J.J. Yeley behind the wheel. Kahne claimed he was sick the next day, but observers at the track saw him leave the garage area in anger, and he had some harsh words for this team — an organization he’ll be leaving after this year.  Was Kahne’s early exit acceptable given the circumstances?

Kyle: Well, watching NASCAR Now, it appeared a team official said he was laying down and told him to leave … that’s the way I understand it, anyway. Plus, the dude threw up. Said he could have toughed it out if the car was competitive.
Amy: No, it was not acceptable. If I were Richard Petty, I’d have told him not to bother coming to Martinsville on Friday. If the car had been top 5, Kahne would not have gotten out.
Summer: Well he probably wouldn’t have wrecked had the car been top 5. I read that Kasey still wasn’t feeling well. I’m not saying he wasn’t pissed, but he was definitely sick.

“Who knows if Kasey Kahne will ever slide behind the wheel of a Budweiser car again, especially after the war of words that have been going on between the driver and his team in public the last few days.”

Amy: He felt well enough to run a 5k. If you can tough it out in a good car, you can tough it out in a bad one.
Mike N.: That sounds good, Amy, but I promise you it is a lot harder to tough it out when you feel like crap in a car that runs like crap. I believe it was acceptable since he was legitimately sick. Although I’d be having a talk with him about what he said about the organization.
Phil: He ran a 5k, and apparently stunk it up. He would have had to be there anyway, regardless.
Amy: Was he sick? He said he was, but nobody else has stepped up and backed him up.
Kyle: I don’t know. I think there is some team chemistry stuff falling apart right now. When a team official tells you (allegedly) that you’re laying down, that’s not good…
Amy: Kahne has been mailing it in since his announcement. I can’t blame RPM for putting more effort into the guys who are going to be there next year.
Mike N.: I’m sure things are going to continue to go downhill until he leaves, whenever that is. It is never a good situation when a driver is a lame duck. But I wouldn’t say Kahne has been mailing it in; he just finished fourth the week before last.
Amy: If I were his owner and didn’t have a report from infield care that he was too sick to drive, he wouldn’t need to show up this week.
Kyle: Is he mailing it in or is RPM just not running well? I mean, RPM is on the verge of nonexistence.
Amy: Allmendinger is running well.
Summer: Even Paul Menard has been running well.
Mike N.: Yeah, RPM is looking better and better with the 43 and 98, and even the 19 has had some decent runs.
Amy: If the car was running well and he’s gotten out, then he’s really sick; if not, you have to question his dedication. Frankly, leaving early isn’t something Rick Hendrick takes too well to, either.
Phil: True. We remember what Kyle Busch pulled back in 2007.
Summer: He doesn’t have much dedication to his team right now because he doesn’t feel like his team has much dedication to him.
Amy: Why should they, the way he treated them?
Kyle: But why would Kahne stay around if he didn’t care? I’m sure Red Bull could get him in early if he wanted. Kahne has Hendrick, he can pretty much get whatever he wants.
Mike N.: Well, I’m never going to question a man’s drive who is out there running in one of these cars week in and week out.
Kyle: How did he treat them, per se?
Amy: He went off on them on the radio. Worse than Harvick or Kyle Busch.
Mike N.: Have you heard how Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick treat their teams? Kahne treats his a lot better.
Summer: How often does Kahne go off on his team on the radio?
Mike N.: I think he went off on the organization more than his team.
Kyle: True, I don’t feel that judgment can be made unless you listen the entire race. Dale Jr.‘s radio isn’t as bad as people think; they just hear the real bad stuff.
Amy: And his excuse for the wrecks is pretty sad: the wrong brake fluid? The other three RPM cars aren’t spinning out every other week.
Summer: Actually Amy, that was his point. He’s the only one having those issues.
Amy: Then maybe it’s not the brake fluid.
Mike N.: I’ve never heard of him going off on his team. He admitted he melted down on Saturday night.
Phil: I thought he said that he basically had no brakes when he wrecked. That’s not necessarily an organizational problem, that’s an issue with his car.
Mike N.: Well whatever, he completely lost the brakes on the car.
Amy: He runs the same brake fluid as the other RPM cars. They don’t have a problem — maybe it’s his team’s setups, maybe it’s his driving.
Summer: Don’t know about his driving since he wasn’t having these issues before he announced he was leaving. He was actually winning.
Kyle: Yeah, let’s remember it was Kahne that got RPM back into Victory Lane. I think this is more of an issue with RPM giving up than Kahne.
Summer: And if it’s the setups, again it backs up his point. He’s being given inferior equipment and he’s not happy about it.
Amy: Since Kahne announced he was leaving, why should RPM put the effort into him instead of Allmendinger?
Kyle: Because at the time Kahne, if I am recalling correctly, had a better shot for the Chase. Sorry, Allmendinger won’t for awhile longer. He is good but he can’t contend with the Johnson’s of the world. Kahne can. Kahne has.
Mike N.: RPM should put the effort into everyone. That is what professionals do.
Amy: Then so should their drivers, Mike.  Kahne didn’t do that on Saturday. For all we know, the team is trying setups closer to what they’ll run next year with Ambrose.
Mike N.: He was sick and his car was junk. I don’t blame him.
Amy: He wasn’t sick until the car was junk.
Kyle: You might as well go home and refuel for the next race than race sick in a car that is laps down. However, he probably should have sat out the 5k Sunday.
Phil: Can’t a junk car basically make you sick from having to overdrive it?
Mike N.: I don’t know, because Kasey didn’t tell me how he felt when he climbed in the car. But he said he was sick when he got in and I take him at his word.
Amy: Meanwhile Kevin Conway, in has crappy car, drove the entire Coke 600 puking his guts out. Say what you want about Conway’s ability, but that is dedication to the race team.
Summer: I just don’t think Kasey wants to put the effort into a team that he doesn’t feel is putting any effort into him.

Kyle: I agree with Summer. I think RPM is 100 percent at fault here. You don’t bust your ass for someone that you don’t think is going to bust ass for you.
Mike N.: It is one of those “he said, she said” deals and unfortunately, I don’t think there is any way it will get better before Kahne moves on.

Kyle: Plain and simple: He already has a ride for next year and beyond; he just needs to get the next five races out of the way and leave.
Phil: Plus, even if they fired Kasey tomorrow, who would replace him?
Mike N.: Hard to say, Phil, but I’m sure there are plenty of people around who’d be honored to drive a Budweiser-sponsored car.
Amy: Give it to Yeley for five races — he didn’t give up on it.

Phil: It would be interesting to see what Yeley could do in the No. 9 for five weeks.
Kyle: Because Yeley is trying to get a ride, he’ll drive a car with two wheels.
Amy: Kahne hasn’t been busting his ass, he’s been complaining out of his ass. Maybe the team got sick of it and decided if he doesn’t care, why should they?
Kyle: He had been busting his ass, but his team quit on him after this announcement that he was leaving.
Amy: From what I’ve heard, he’s done nothing but complain for several weeks.
Summer: Which is, again, because he felt his team quit on him. He got sick of their treatment, not the other way around. Kasey wouldn’t have gotten out of the car without the wreck. It’s not like he just drove to the garage and said, “Screw it.”
Amy: Maybe Summer, but maybe not. Kahne has had zero incentive to try in months.
Kyle: For the 20th time, Kahne’s team quit on him first.
Summer: Exactly, Kyle. Kasey doesn’t have incentive because the team hasn’t given him any.
Amy: And if he felt good enough to drive a good car, then he felt well enough to drive a crappy one. Who said racing was supposed to be easy?

NASCAR called a caution Friday night to correct a simple scoring error, restoring the proper position to Brian Scott. It’s not without precedent, but is stopping the race just to fix mistakes the right call for a sanctioning body already under fire for “fake” debris cautions?

Amy: Of course it was the right call. NASCAR screwed up and they needed to fix it. They should do that more often!
Summer: I didn’t have a problem with it, per se, but the issue is more with their consistency on fixing scoring mistakes.
Phil: I talked about it in my critique: NASCAR should have special rules for this type of situation.
Mike N.: It was the right call, although it is a shame that it had a negative impact on Harvick’s night.
Amy: Exactly, Mike. It sucks for Harvick, but it was nice to see NASCAR actually admitting a mistake and righting a wrong.
Phil: Yes, throw the yellow to reset the position. However, no stops, and no Lucky Dog or wave-arounds. Work for everyone?

“The sad thing about the whole Brian Scott story is this scoring error is the most publicity the possible Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year may see for the rest of 2010.”

Summer: That seems to make more sense, Phil.
Mike N.: It would seem to me they could have just given him a lap on the scoring system and allowed the racing to continue.
Kyle: What else can you do? You have to throw the caution.

Phil: Apparently, it doesn’t work that way, Mike. Tissot’s system doesn’t allow someone to just add a number manually. It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years since the Earnhardt situation at Rockingham. That was a 12-lap caution back then.
Mike N.: It is understandable, but I’d think they could have manually kept track of it until a caution flew and then let him make it up on the track and placed him where he belonged.
Kyle: What if the race went green for the rest of the race?
Summer: It would have without the scoring error.
Mike N.: Then you add the lap to his final position.
Phil: We don’t necessarily know that, Summer. There is a chance it would have, but you never know. Something else could have come up in the last 46 laps.
acingbluemoon: How do you do that, Mike? You didn’t know where he would have raced to in the correct lap.
Mike N.: Unless they’ve changed the system they still manually score the races, too. If you tell the team they’re one lap closer to the front and tell them you’ll fix it on the next caution or at the end, they can figure out where he’d be in the lineup.
Kyle: But then you would have the argument of him being able to gain more positions. Say he was actually 10th but they scored him 11th, one lap down. The argument could be made that without the error, he would have won.

Summer: Mistakes are always going to screw somebody and in turn help someone else.
Amy: At least this time NASCAR fixed the mistake. Sucks for Harvick,  but that is also at least in part due to his pit strategy as well.
Phil: They actually used precedent here. What they did was nearly identical to the Earnhardt situation in 1995. Thankfully, it didn’t take as long. Ideally, if this happens again, with my rule additions, this would be a two-lap caution. By the way, Earnhardt was penalized for his team not putting day-glo paint on a lugnut that was properly affixed to the left front wheel.
Mike N.: The penalty for Earnhardt was a missing lug nut that wasn’t missing, but the official couldn’t see it because it wasn’t painted yellow. They dropped the yellow nut and grabbed a spare they had that wasn’t painted.

Kyle: I’m just wondering how they had a scoring error. It’s all computerized for the most part. They still score by hand, too, but still, there should be almost no errors. Nothing is perfect, but the scoring system should be very close to perfect.
Amy: NASCAR penalized him for a missing lug nut, which cost him a lap. When he pitted, the nut wasn’t missing.
Kyle: Oh, so a human error …
Summer: Yeah, I wish they had a way to fix those errors without stopping the race entirely.
Kyle: Yeah, so throw the caution and reset the laps. If there has only been a lap or something, just reset to the last restart or something, like it never happened.
Summer: It was a good call and they did the right thing. It doesn’t happen very often, and hopefully it stays that way.
Amy: All in all, I’d rather see a Harvick get hurt by fixing an error than by not fixing the error.
Kyle: Harvick isn’t happy that they didn’t fix it, but if that happens to him and NASCAR doesn’t fix it, he will be pissed. With anything, you’ll make some mad, some happy.
Mike N.: I think they did the right thing. They stepped up and corrected an error and everyone was on a level playing field. It was a bit of a shame it was for someone multiple laps down, though.
Amy: NASCAR should fix their mistakes more often — it would be good for their credibility.
Phil: In this case, it might be better that it was someone that was laps down.  Earnhardt was given second place when they screwed up in 1995.
Mike N.: True, Phil. There were some unhappy people over that one.
Phil: That’s probably why the caution took 12 laps.

OK, how about some predictions for Martinsville?

Amy: I’m going to go with Jimmie Johnson. They learned their lesson in March.
Summer: I’m going with Jimmie, too.
Mike N.: I’ll take Hamlin, since I can’t make up ground taking the same person Amy does.
Phil: I’m coming off two wins in three weeks. I’m going with Kenseth. He’s not going to get bullied this time.
Kyle: Hmmm, give me Johnson, too.

Email the Mirror Guys ‘N’ Gals!
Contact Amy Henderson
Contact Kyle Ocker
Contact Mike Neff
Contact Phil Allaway
Contact Summer Dreyer

Wednesday on the Frontstretch:
Did You Notice? … NASCAR’s Blown Call, Its New Short Track King, And Time To Kahne And Disable
How Jamie McMurray Has Single-Handedly Invalidated the Chase
Beyond The Cockpit: A.J. Allmendinger on Consistency, 2011 Daytona 500, More
Sprint Cup Power Rankings: Top 15 Through Charlotte-2
Top 10 Reasons Kasey Kahne Left the Track Early on Saturday Night
The Frontstretch Foto Funnies – Charlotte, October 2010

Mirror Predictions 2010

Welcome to our fourth consecutive year of Mirror Predictions! Each week, our experts take the end of this column to tell us who the winner of each Cup race will be. But as we all know, predicting the future is difficult if not completely impossible … so how do you know which writer you can trust when you put your own reputation (or money) on the line?

That’s why we came up with our Mirror Predictions Chart. The scoring for this year is simple:

Prediction Scoring
+5 – Win
+3 – Top 5
+1 – Top 10
0 – 11th-20th
-1 – 21st-30th
-2 – 31st-40th
-3 – 41st-43rd

Through thirty-one races, here’s how our experts have fared so far:

Writer Points Behind Predictions (Starts) Wins Top 5s Top 10s
Phil Allaway 50 27 5 13 19
Amy Henderson 46 -4 31 3 13 21
Summer Dreyer 26 -24 19 1 9 12
Beth Lunkenheimer 21 -29 20 1 9 11
Mike Neff 21 -29 17 1 7 9
Jeff Meyer 15 -35 19 0 6 11
Garrett Horton 5 -45 8 1 1 3
Kurt Smith 5 -45 8 0 3 3
Matt Taliaferro 4 -46 4 1 1 2
Bryan Davis Keith 4 -46 3 0 1 2
Tom Bowles 4 -46 4 0 1 2
Kyle Ocker 3 -47 4 0 1 2
Vito Pugliese 2 -48 3 0 1 2
Tony Lumbis 0 -50 3 0 0 0
Toni Montgomery 0 -50 1 0 0 0

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NASCAR Easter Eggs: A Few Off-Week Nuggets to Chew On
Five Points To Ponder: NASCAR’s Take-A-Breath Moment
Truckin’ Thursdays: Top Five All-Time Truck Series Drivers
Going By the Numbers: A Week Without Racing Can Bring Relief But Kill Momentum


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10/20/2010 02:59 AM

People are always blah-blah-blahing about how if you go up against the NFL, you lose.
I never see anyone point out that up until the last 5-7 years, NASCAR gained attendance numbers yearly. Even in the fall, and I’m pretty sure that the NFL was around back then.
It is clear by the ratings from say 1980-2000 that a sport can go up against the NFL and produce respectable numbers. Will it be the number 1 sport? No, most assuredly not. Can it remain respectable and garner a solid TV fan base? History says yes.
So, since NASCAR has long since gone up against the NFL and generated respectable numbers, that can’t be the issue. NASCAR has always had the 12-2pm starting range for each local time zone, so that’s not the problem either.
What is the problem? Well, NASCAR became na$car, brian france took control, the TV deal gave us commentators creating drama rather than calling races, the chase made sure that the champ would be crowned in Homestead (and that nobody cared), the front office began to pander to people that had no vested interest in the sport or it’s survival, and the drivers became bland and uninteresting corporate models that gave the common “blue-collar” fans no reason to tune in.
If you fix all of those issues; then cry, beg, and plead with the former fans for “one more chance,” there might be hope of pulling out of the nose-dive.

Carl D.
10/20/2010 07:31 AM

The chase has not helped the ratings as it was intended to do. And most of the few remaining fans hate it. Nascar should consider it a failed experiment and dump it.

10/20/2010 08:00 AM

What do y’all expect when a college dropout is running NA$CAR? The same flunkie that says the racing is phenomenal. The racing I’ve been seeing is far from being “exceedingly or unbelievably great”. Pour yourself another glass of scotch, Brain. It helps loosen your wagging tongue.

10/20/2010 12:57 PM

Hard headed NASCAR doesn’t get it. We don’t want the Chase, we want the fairest way to determine the Champion, not artificial drama. Go back to old system of cumulative points but change the way driver points are rewarded to emphasize winning more. Both Indy and Formula-1 had close championship battles this year, and they didn’t need some artificial playoff system. The problem with old system is that the way points were rewarded didn’t reward winners enough. That can be fixed by giving more points to the race winner. Or, take the marquis races and give extra points to the winner like Indy Car does with the Indy 500. NASCAR isn’t concerned with that however, they want a show at Homestead.

Kevin in SoCal
10/20/2010 01:17 PM

I agree with Summer. The Chase isnt as bad as everyone makes it out to be, but with a few tweaks IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION it would be much better. The recently rumored tweaks about adding more drivers and having an elimination system are in the WRONG direction.

As I’ve said before, I have a few suggestions to fix the Chase: Top 5 Drivers, Last 5 Races, Have at it boys! The second would be top ten in points, with 11 and 12 a “wild card” for drivers who raced all 26 races, won a race during those 26, but didnt make the top ten. Reset the points so there is 10 or 25 points between each driver as they finished after Richmond, and THEN add the 10 points per win. This way, the point leader has a better chance of keeping his lead if he won more races, AND a driver who won 5 races but is 7th in points doesnt get catapulted to the points lead he didnt earn. Yes its more complicated but I think it works.
The third choice would be to simply give the Chase drivers their own points system. Either give them points based on how they finished compared to each other, or only award points if they finish in the top ten.

10/20/2010 03:40 PM

Here might be the simplest Chase change that would solve two big problems with the current Chase. Add 5 races, make it a 15 race playoff. Based on the 2011 schedule this would add a road course, Bristol and Richmond to the Chase. Also, it would lessen the impact Talladaga always seems to have as a game of elimination roulette. Now if you get caught in the “big-one” there are 5 additional races to make up points in. The only problem is that it would greaten the possibility the title could be clinched before Homestead. I don’t think fans would have a problem with that but NASCAR and ISC do. At the least though the Chase seeding needs to reflect both regular season finish and wins.

10/20/2010 03:41 PM

If the season is only 6 races long, there’s no need for a Chase. If I’m kicking everyone’s butt after 26 races, why penalize me the last 10 races? The Chase simply sucks.

10/21/2010 09:52 AM

How bout 36 races in the Chase and resetting the points to zero before the first race?

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